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Category: General Questions

What is a "Qualifying Child"?

A Qualifying Child is a child who meets the six IRS requirements to be a dependent for tax purposes.  The qualifying child may enable the taxpayer to take advantage of several tax benefits, such as Head of Household, the Earned Income Credit, the Child Care Credit, and the Child Tax Credit.

The six IRS requirements are:

* Relationship – must be the taxpayer’s child or stepchild (by blood or adoption), foster child, sibling or step-sibling, or a descendant of any of these.

* Age – on Dec 31st, must be under the age of 19, or the age of 24 if a full-time student, or regardless of age, be permanently and totally disabled.

* Residence – the child must have lived with the taxpayer for more than 6 months of the tax year. Exceptions are made the children of separated or divorced parents.  If a child was born or died during the year, they are considered to have lived with you the entire year.

* Support – refers to the child’s income, which must not have provided more than half of the child’s support for the tax year

* Joint Return – the child cannot file a joint return, unless the return is filed only to claim a refund of withholdings

* Citizenship – the child must be a US citizen, US resident alien, and the child must have a SSN by the date the return is filed.


If two, or more taxpayers can claim a child in the tax year, the child will be the qualifying child of:

* the custodial parent

* the parent with whom the child resided with for the longest period of time

* the parent with the highest AGI, if the periods of time are equal

* if neither taxpayer is a parent, the taxpayer with the highest AGI


To determine if someone can be claimed as a qualifying child, click here to access the IRS Interactive Tool.


For the tax year 2018, personal exemptions are not allowed. 


For tax year 2017 and prior years, taxpayer(s) can claim an exemption for themselves, their spouse, and qualifying dependents.  Also, for 2017, the child can be a citizen of Canada or Mexico with an ITIN.